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29 February 2024 Daily Current Affairs | Daily The Hindu Newspaper Analysis

Why sustainable funding matters for India’s ‘science power’ ambition | Explained


Celebrating Science for Sustainable Development:

India celebrates National Science Day on February 28th, this year with the theme "Science for Sustainable Development." This theme highlights the crucial role science and technology play in achieving long-term economic and social progress in an environmentally conscious manner. For India to achieve its ambitious goal of becoming a developed nation by 2047, fostering a robust and sustainably funded scientific ecosystem is paramount.


Current State of R&D Funding:

Despite its aspirations, India currently faces several challenges regarding Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). One major concern is the low level of research and development (R&D) expenditure, which stands at only 0.64% of GDP. This falls short of the national goal of 2% set in the 2013 Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy and is significantly lower compared to developed nations, many of which spend between 2% and 4% of their GDP on R&D.

Inadequate Private Sector Contribution and Under-utilized Funds:

Furthermore, the private sector contribution to R&D in India stands at 36.4%, significantly lower than the average of 70% observed in developed economies. This gap reflects a need for fostering a more conducive environment for private sector investment in R&D. Additionally, a concerning trend is the under-utilization of allocated R&D budgets by various government ministries. Reports show ministries like the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) consistently under-spending their budgets, raising questions about the efficiency and effectiveness of current funding mechanisms.

The Call for Sustainable Funding:

Experts and policymakers emphasize the need for sustainable funding to bridge the gap and ensure consistent, long-term investment in R&D. This necessitates not only increasing the overall quantum of R&D funding but also focusing on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of its utilization.

Strategies for Sustainable Funding:

  • Increasing R&D spending: Setting a clear roadmap to gradually increase R&D spending to at least 3% of GDP by 2047.

  • Encouraging private sector participation: Introducing incentives like tax breaks, simplified regulations, and clear intellectual property protection to attract private sector investment in R&D.

  • Optimizing budget utilization: Addressing bureaucratic hurdles that hinder efficient disbursement and utilization of allocated funds.

  • Building capacity and fostering collaboration: Investing in building the capacity of government agencies to evaluate projects, monitor spending, and collaborate effectively with the private sector.

Conclusion:

National Science Day serves as a timely reminder of the critical role science plays in ensuring India's sustainable development. By addressing the challenges related to R&D funding and implementing strategies for sustainable funding, India can empower its scientific community and pave the way for a future driven by innovation and sustainable progress.


Towards emotionally unbiased judgments

The Challenge: Judges, expected to be impartial, face the challenge of maintaining emotional neutrality, particularly regarding anger, which can cloud judgment and lead to biased decisions.

The Problem with Anger: Research shows anger impairs decision-making, presenting a significant risk in the judiciary where sound judgment is paramount. Even seemingly minor expressions of anger, like silence or refusal to engage, can be detrimental.

The Need for a Thorough Approach: Judges should avoid relying on heuristics (mental shortcuts), which are often insufficient for evidence-based legal reasoning. The legal system demands a methodical and meticulous approach, weighing evidence carefully and avoiding leaps of logic.

The Impact of Anger on Judgment: Anger can contaminate the deliberative process, leading to skewed judgments and inappropriate reactions to minor infractions. Judges need to exercise emotional restraint even in the face of perceived disrespect or non-conformity to tradition.

Consequences of Biased Decisions: A judge swayed by anger or bias might impose disproportionate penalties or overlook crucial legal nuances, jeopardizing the fairness of the justice system.

Strategies for Emotional Control:

  • Recognizing the influence of emotions like anger on decision-making is the first step.

  • Mindfulness practices can help judges be aware of their emotions without being controlled by them.

  • Taking breaks, like a coffee break, can help improve decision-making after recognizing any emotional influence.

Conclusion: Cultivating emotional intelligence is crucial for judges to uphold the integrity and fairness of the legal system. By recognizing and mitigating the impact of emotions, judges can ensure their decisions are based on sound judgment and foster public trust in the judiciary.


3. Coal Mining Challenges in Nagaland

Problem: Nagaland struggles to regulate illegal and unsafe coal mining activities due to:

  • Article 371A: This constitutional provision grants Nagaland special rights regarding land and resources, making it difficult for the government to implement stricter mining regulations.

  • Community land ownership: Traditional landholding system makes it challenging to hold individuals accountable for mining practices on community land.

  • Livelihood dependence: Local communities rely on rat-hole mining (a dangerous and unregulated method) for income, making them resistant to stricter regulations.

Government's Efforts:

  • The Nagaland government acknowledges the dangers of illegal mining and wants to implement scientific mining practices.

  • They believe they can hold contractors accountable for land reclamation and following mining guidelines.

  • They plan to educate communities about the negative impacts of illegal mining.

Challenges Remain:

  • Despite efforts, illegal rat-hole mining persists.

  • The government struggles to enforce regulations due to Article 371A and the land ownership system.

Conclusion: Nagaland faces a complex situation where addressing illegal and dangerous mining practices requires navigating constitutional limitations, traditional landownership, and community dependence on this activity.


Special Provisions wrt some states

Stalemate on Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project in Nepal-India Talks

India and Nepal held official talks focusing on various areas of cooperation, but no progress was made on the stalled Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP).

Project Details:

  • Aims to generate 6,480 MW of power (shared equally) and provide irrigation benefits to both nations.

  • Negotiations are stuck due to differing views on benefit sharing:

  • Nepal wants compensation for water (seen as "white gold").

  • India opposes this, citing existing water-sharing agreements.

Challenges:

  • Both sides lack the political will and bureaucratic agility to overcome the impasse.

  • Upcoming elections in India and domestic political instability in Nepal further complicate the situation.

Previous Efforts:

  • A Team of Experts was formed to finalize the project report, but failed to reach an agreement.

  • Nepal recently proposed extending the team's term, but no further discussions have occurred.

Conclusion:

The future of the Pancheshwar project remains uncertain, requiring significant political commitment and innovative solutions to bridge the gap between Nepal and India's positions.


Adjournment in Parliament

A session of Parliament consists of many meetings. Each meeting of a day consists of two sittings, that is, a morning sitting from 11 am to 1 pm and post-lunch sitting from 2 pm to 6 pm. A sitting of Parliament can be terminated by adjournment or adjournment sine die or prorogation or dissolution (in the case of the Lok Sabha). An adjournment suspends the work in a sitting for a specified time, which may be hours, days or weeks.


Adjournment Sine Die

Adjournment sine die means terminating a sitting of Parliament for an indefinite period. In other words, when the House is adjourned without naming a day for reassembly, it is called adjournment sine die. The power of adjournment as well as adjournment sine die lies with the presiding officer of the House. He can also call a sitting of the House before the date or time to which it has been adjourned or at any time after the House has been adjourned sine die.


India Completes "10,000 Genomes" Project to Understand Population Diversity

India's Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has completed the "10,000 Genomes" project. This initiative aims to create a reference database of whole-genome sequences representing India's diverse population.

Significance:

  • Understand the genetic variations unique to Indian population groups.

  • Develop customized drugs and therapies based on these unique variations.

  • Gain insights into disease susceptibility and predisposition in different populations.

Project Details:

  • Led by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB).

  • Involved 20 institutions across India.

  • Created a biobank of 20,000 blood samples for future research.

  • All the data are being stored at the Indian Biological Data Centre (IBDC) set up by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India at the Regional Centre for Biotechnology (RCB), Faridabad.

Future Outlook:

  • While significant, the project is a stepping stone. Sequencing many more thousands of genomes is needed for a more comprehensive understanding.

  • This data will be crucial for improving diagnostics, personalized medicine, and public health initiatives in India.

Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes with around 20,500 genes. Genome mapping finds the location and relative distances of these genes on chromosomes. This helps scientists understand:

  • Disease links: If a disease runs in families, mapping can identify the genes involved and their location on chromosomes.

  • Gene function: Mapping helps locate genes responsible for various diseases, including rare and common ones like cancer.


WTO Ministerial Conference: Developing Nations Raise Concerns Over Services Trade Neglect


Key Points:

  • Services trade, like movement of skilled professionals, is crucial (over 20% of global trade).

  • Developing nations criticize developed nations for:

  • Neglecting services trade issues in WTO negotiations.

  • Focusing on "non-trade" agendas not relevant to WTO's core objectives.

  • Specific concerns:

  • Lack of discussions on improving services trade and addressing issues like:

  • Mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) for smoother trade.

  • Mobility restrictions hindering movement of skilled workers from developing nations.

  • Developed nations' resistance to flexible immigration rules, despite potential benefits (e.g., filling labor gaps).

  • India's proposals:

  • Enhanced flexibilities for developing countries in services trade.

  • Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS) to address trade barriers and promote smoother cross-border services movement.

  • Smoother movement of skilled professionals like IT professionals and medical workers.

Overall, developing nations urge the WTO to prioritize addressing critical issues in neglected areas like services trade, especially those impacting their development.



Map of the Day

Chad Map

Editorial of the Day


Lives and livelihoods: On perils and the Indian emigrant


Indians Recruited by Russian Army: A Crisis of Misinformation and Desperation

Subheadings and details:

  • Deceptive Recruitment and Delayed Government Response:

  • The government confirms Indians were recruited for "support jobs" in Ukraine, but families claim they were misled about the nature of the work.

  • The government discouraged this practice but remained silent until reports of Indian casualties surfaced.

  • Fallout of the Recruitment:

  • Several Indians, lured by online ads and promises of high pay, ended up in war zones facing danger.

  • One Indian man reportedly died in a drone strike.

  • Government's Lack of Action and Need for Improvement:

  • The article criticizes the government for:

  • Failing to warn citizens about the risks and actively discourage recruitment.

  • Not providing adequate support to families and those recruited.

  • It proposes:

  • Implementing stricter regulations for travel to countries in conflict zones.

  • Increasing awareness campaigns to prevent similar situations.

  • Investigating and dismantling networks exploiting Indians seeking work abroad.

  • Underlying Economic Issues:

  • The article highlights the economic hardship in India driving individuals to seek work in dangerous situations.

  • It urges the government to:

  • Address the root causes of unemployment and economic despair.

  • Implement better support structures for emigrants, especially those in vulnerable situations.

  • Beyond Ukraine: A Broader Issue:

  • The article mentions similar recruitment happening in other conflict zones like Israel.

  • It suggests regional cooperation to tackle the issue of exploitative recruitment practices.

This summary provides more details and divides the information into relevant subheadings for better organization.



29 February 2024 Daily Current Affairs

Thanks for reading 29 February 2024 Daily Current Affairs | Daily The Hindu Newspaper and Editorial Analysis

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